If you’re an Astran, an old organization known as the Legion is keeping an eye on you.
Beyond the Core by K.R. Cunningham is Book 1 of The Starborn Series. This adventurous, LGBTQ+ fantasy surrounds the life of Owen, who is swept from a peaceful life in the village to journeying through perilous encounters. But while he meets new faces, taps into his newfound abilities, someone is heavily on his tracks.
Owen’s journey sometimes felt like a step forward and two steps back. The Legion is just that aggressive in their search, and to be fair, sometimes Owen is too trusting of others. With new companions and revelations brought to light, our MC is confronted to act beyond he expected when he left his village; one of them includes knowing more about his past.
Being an Astran sucks.
I enjoy fantasy books that have more than one POV; having open windows allows me to explore more of the world as a reader. Cunningham did an exceptional job in showing the hunter and the one being chased. For example, through Elian’s POV, we see how the Legion works and what they do to Astrans, who reach thirteen years of age. Under a ritual call, the cleansing all marked Astrans must undergo this dark procedure. The abilities Astrans wield are unveiled page by page, you can’t help but feel for them as those who are marked are under constant watch.
Owen is naive but not to his own fault. He has a good nature and having been protected from the Legion, he doesn’t handle killings very well, be it from an animal or person. Though he is selfless and caring of others, he’s also biased as he can be hard on people who stuck his neck out for him yet somehow give Colt the pass to remain his imperfect self.
Colt is my favorite as he is the most cautious and keeps a sense of secrecy around him, especially with Owen describing his scent as citrusy. As a member of Owen’s group, he goes by his own tune, always showing a hard exterior but sometimes a soft spot that Owen notices.
“Everything is connected,” he said. “Nothing is closed.”– Amias to Owen
A solid five stars!
I really enjoyed the returning of characters and seeing some villains get a well-deserved serve of their own medicine. Hopefully, we get to see Lou fall into that category in Cunningham’s future work. The dude just rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t care whose team Rhielle is; I just could not dislike her at all!
Beyond the Core has a splice of life feel, with colorful characters in a world and with slow-burning romance (as much as I would love to talk about that, I simply cannot give spoilers). Most of the questions I was left with were answered towards the end, giving rise to bigger predicaments. This brings further anticipation for the second book!
Get your copy here!
Want to know more? Visit K.R. Cunningham’s website at the link below